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Date: 1873-1880
Medium: White oak, walnut, Port Orford (western Pacific) cedar, consolidated original upholstery
38-1/8 x 26-1/4 x 28-1/4 in.
Signed: metal 'property' tag under front of seat rail marked 'Univ. Pic./ N55-1377/Co. Inc.'
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 96.24
Label Text
By the late 1860s, Americans moved toward a new design mode set in motion in England known as the Aesthetic Movement. One component of this reform movement was the inauguration of "Modern Gothic," a reinterpretation of the architecturally accurate Gothic style that had been popular at mid-century. The design vocabulary of Modern Gothic furniture features simple, functional forms with straightforward construction. Advocates of the style endorsed the use of abstracted ornamentation, such as flowers and leaves, that was derived, but not directly copied, from nature. Examples of these motifs can be seen on this chair in the incised and applied decoration on the frame and in the pattern of the upholstery.

The rich color and pattern of this original upholstery lightens the weighty proportions of the chair. The polychromatic, woven, silk and cotton fabric bands feature a block pattern of sunflowers, geometric figures, and stylized botanical elements. Analysis shows that the fabric color was originally more vibrant with a golden brown ground and figures in purple, pale blue, black, cream, and red. The fabric is an example of what was termed "raw silk upholstery" in the 1870s and 1880s. Woven raw silk, in lively patterns and colors, were the height of fashion.